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tv   Doc Film - Myanmar - The Power of the Monks  Deutsche Welle  November 12, 2017 10:15am-11:01am CET

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org. stories that people the world over information they provide the plans they want
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to express g.w. on facebook and twitter up to date and in touch follow us. around the food . in the water going to. have to have a family that when they go. to. work since the autumn of two thousand and fifteen our own son to achieve a global icon of resistance to tyranny has had the fate of myanmar in her hands thank. you chris trouble against the military
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junta lasted thirty years she spent more than half of them under house arrest survived assassination attempts and was awarded the nobel peace prize for her stubborn opposition. the hopes of a great people rest on her shoulders today but the general still haven't relinquished their power and the young democracy remains fractured. from. the five hundred thousand buddhist monks in the man maher have played a crucial role in the return to democracy. although traditionally barred from politics they're still active in all areas of public life. however a new generation of monks is now questioning the old order.
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three of them have opened up the doors to their monasteries for us. they all stand out for their willingness to get involved in public matters and are fighting their very own at times contradictory battles. but they're doing it in the name of buddhism. the out. the out.
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with me up with my name is. i'm thirty five and have been a monk for sixteen years old and i. thought the last. this. morning i was. there with. the no. that was you know i entered
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religious life in my village in the south gang region when i was ten so. since then i've dedicated my life to the teachings of the buddha and to spreading the religion. i mean the form of you know sort of the political situation in my country is one of the main reasons why i wanted to remain among. just see how. do you move your music and you know it was a little john don't up on. was indeed the no no man went on son she came to power it gave people hope again. before that there was neither hope nor joy as people that stopped believing in the future it was a good thing that. we are at
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a buddhist association in the center of mandalay. is due to give a sermon there and people are already expecting him. ladies and gentlemen our venerable speaker has arrived let's listen to his words. and. the organizers appreciate his words even more than his commitment to allentown to cheat he is unusually outspoken for a mug. he's a member that is in our country you know the monks have long had a lot of influence on the people. play the most important part and most changes in the country. indeed when like the peepholes teaches to lawful or to hat or to shut up or not.
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doing them a couple now. we monks i don't convince that buddhism is developing with democracy . according to the buddha orders them there's a set of teaching in this that questions things and that's allowed to be question that tameka to democracy and that is exactly what buddha talked that had done it was in a lot of that i don't want to and that's why we're convinced buddhism can only benefit from democracy i don't know cynical. people think that once they've cast their vote everything's done and dusted if they think they've done all they need to do but they're not exactly humble. they want this and they want that most of them don't even know what's happening in their own
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country are not so bad so far the government hasn't been able to do much for our economy but it hasn't even told us why that is am i right. what about our dignity is not a sign of intelligence. were for. the. preparing the people of myanmar for a new democratic era that's how to wants to support the woman who led the country to freedom. trade very much for her and it worked. i respect and trust her. if i had to i'd be willing to die for her. the monks have repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to society and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the burmese people. and at times
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they've had to pay a high price. yer september two thousand and seven while the country was mired in a severe economic crisis the military junta decided to increase fuel prices people were at their wit's end. but then the monks took to the streets it was a first in manama the military hunter was surprised but at first tolerated it then the protests started growing quickly blossoming into the so-called saffron revolution after the color of the monks robes. the army was overwhelmed and felt threatened the unthinkable happened it opened fire on the monks and locked hundreds of them up was the revolution failed but the hunter had shown its true face once again with serious consequences was.
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the. horrible a saw in my view the revolution of two thousand and seven was the final blow. many blows were needed over the years to sell this big tree. after this last one the tree of the dictatorship came falling down. or you know felt that a lot. in two thousand and eleven million mark took the first tentative steps towards becoming a free market economy and a consumer society but half a century of terror and economic isolation had turned the country that was once the richest in the region into one of the poorest in the world the monks are trying to help people to get ahead. unload everything take it to the house who taught peter is held in to his activism isn't limited to his bellicose sermons to
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compensate for the lack of health care in two thousand and ten he helped set up a foundation that aims to provide easier access to medical treatment. all right. now. if it were possible we'd prefer to just follow our calling as monks to be honest we've all had enough of all this but it's our tradition that's a project can only be successful if the monks get involved. so we're forced into this work and we also view it as to look after the people because we depend on them to know they feed us and pay for it with. a symbiotic relationship is a fundamental factor in burmese society the monks guide the people by providing
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them with a religious education while the people pay for their maintenance. of the. pool. the alms ritual. that takes place in the streets of man mark every morning is a reminder of this connection between the population and the monks the monks are freed from material needs and can dedicate their studies wholly to spreading buddhist teachings thanks. for the children of the poorest families entering a monastic school is often the only way of climbing the social ladder they then continue their training at the buddhist universities while some monks are happy to lead a modest life in
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a monastery others become influential people in burma society the so-called venerable ones. like the monks in thailand cambodia and laos the bernese monks practice theravada buddhism which is much more traditional than the zen buddhism known in the west. in contrast to the democratic. isn't politically active instead he focuses on spreading buddhism to this and he has settled in a rural area far from the towns and cities where the majority of the born is population still leads an isolated poverty stricken life and.
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this place in the south of rockin state is home to many chin one of a hundred and thirty five ethnic minorities recognized by the burmese constitution . the chen who have suffered persecution and harassment from the dictatorship in the past have a completely different language and culture to those of my own mars largest ethnic group the bomber. the young monk settled here because of the change of religion they are mainly christian and is a missionary and the buddhist monks living here are just like the old christian missionaries and the spearhead of an end expansion plan that has been supported by the military government since the ninety's thank you our.
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unknown going to go not at all but. when i came here the villagers gave me a dog called rice to eat it was almost an end of all. they didn't visit me so i was alone most of the time. i thought a lot about the purpose of my mission at that time. all i had left in my learning this was meditation and i started thinking about the strategy i could use to get people to the monastery and. then you know. then i had an idea i could go to the city and buy sweets to give to the children in the village. after that more and more parents and other people came to the monastery. that's how i was able to win the villagers over and
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convert them. and if they're going to do you know any down the road. converting people is a big challenge for the monks in this village eighty percent of the residents are catholics or baptists to win them over the monks offer what's most sorely lacking here access to education. yes. in these remote areas most families don't have the money to send their children to school. and that's why i turn to the free religious schools in mandalay and rangoon so the children can attend a secondary school. but i don't know you like your children i may said you were
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going to board with i mean yeah right here. in these villages where everything is lacking the monks sometimes do a lot but they always expects something in return this is the real aim of their mission the comprehensive spread of buddhism in awe. all it's really nice.
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spreading buddhism in a christian region is a long process that's based largely on symbols that's why the construction of pagodas monasteries and other religious sites is the missionaries most important work but winning the people's hearts and minds is much harder. a is one of the few monks in the region who is fluent in chin. close links with the villagers forms the basis of his mission strategy. over the years the war lay has found the place he had hoped for in the chin villages of rockin state. he doesn't just have a goda
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a monastic school and several places of worship. he has also managed to send seven hundred fifty children to religious schools in the cities. who were lay works for the department for the promotion and propagation of society all burmese monks are members of this institution which was founded in the early ninety's. when it comes under the auspices of the ministry of religious affairs
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and culture and is based in rangoon or lays master the venerable mara is its president he runs six hundred missions throughout the country. on the twenty seventh of march we organize a sermon and for the conversion to buddhism during which donations for an order nation room were collected in the village of. you have to look after them well otherwise they'll convert to buddhism today but we'll become christians again in three days' time. though i doubt there boy. but the converted the conversion ceremonies are often just the at. we started in two thousand and eleven and the converts didn't revert to christianity the people on the mountain and border regions will convert to get something but as soon as we don't have
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anything left to give them they'll switch religions again. we give them an education to promote our religion it's good to give them an education whether they convert or not education can improve their thinking and their conduct in some places where the schools only teach in chinese or quranic language they can learn bermejo now monastic scholars are. not official language they need to know it. and you can say that our missions only benefit the buddhist religion and. they also promote peace and development in this region. if buddhism could reach the hearts of people and there would be no war. everyone would live in peace. buddhism as a bringer of peace in the eyes of the monks there's no doubt about it but the army
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has a very different aim it sees the buddhist missionary zeal as an effective tool to expand burma is rule over the country's many ethnic minorities. that's why the army started funding this missionary work in the early ninety's it wants to push forward with burma if occasion which it wants to use to consolidate its power over the minorities. one hundred thirty five officially recognized ethnic groups with around one hundred languages and dialects were arbitrarily grouped together as one country . is a mix of peoples alongside the largest ethnic group the bomb our people. are is home to the shan the current the chin the rock and a large number of others particularly in the border regions. ever since its independence in one thousand nine hundred forty eight the republic of the union of
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myanmar has seemed an impossible undertaking. alex onto g.'s father general and son a national hero in the war for independence didn't live to see that he was assassinated . after that the country went through a series of rebellions and guerrilla wars that were put down with increasing bloodshed. in libya. the rise of social networks has given new war lays missionary work a new dimension he writes about the events he's hosting and has no trouble finding donors who are willing to pay for a new buddha statues and monasteries burm if occasion is progressing ever more rapidly in the south of rockin state but a few dozen kilometers further north it's long ground to
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a standstill. these mountains hide an entire region that has been sealed off by the army it's a no go zone for foreigners around a million muslims in this region bordering bangladesh are currently facing unparalleled persecution. there rohan joe was formerly a berm mase ethnic group but are now stateless having been struck off the list of ethnic groups by law in one thousand nine hundred eighty two. even though they have lived in rocking for centuries they're now seen as illegal immigrants from bangladesh. their situation abruptly worsened in two thousand and twelve when buddhists in the state attacked them after monks had spread false rumors about rapes on social media. the
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situation quickly escalated their rowing joe were driven out of the towns and their villages were burned down this was the start of a mass exodus to neighboring countries a tragedy for the rowing. nationalist organizations of buddhist monks have been behind these events these are. openly anti muslim movements have played a big part in the violence it's they who have been fueling the hatred especially via social media since then buddhist nationalism has played a central role in man maher's political life. to cite tara is the founder of a particularly active group of monks. organizations called the patriotic myanma monks union our president is dharma and
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i. and the secretary. manchuria we founded this organization to prevent muslims from invading our country. wanting and forcing their religion upon us. do you no no no no i will. do it was in a photo. the. kind of animal. i have. no doubt violent as you i'm scared of the threat to the buddhist religion and our culture. since other religions have been coming into our country through immigration we've been unable to preserve our culture. the united way you know and we're losing our identity and how to join and here to
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you know. i want to protect our culture and in my idiom. should have only us. although it only consists of around one hundred activists to cite as group plays an important role in burma's nationalism particularly thanks to spectacular events that play effectively in the media. the. the. the. the that was the. the activists monks are demonstrating in the center of rangoon against a ruling joe whom they call bengalis in myanmar the rowing are denied the right to give themselves a name there even denied classification as an ethnic group they are the target of
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extreme hatred. that the lawyer lay want to have parts of wrecking it for. themselves to found a role in just state the problem. as soon as they've got their hands on and. they'll want the whole country and your papers you painted out governor as you know i know you're going to be my own little. the nationalist groups prejudices me too little resistance among the burmese population fear of migrants and radical islamism has merged with an older islamophobia deeply rooted in the minds of non muslim burmese people. was the. was. the. the the.
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the little the owner. was here we demonstrate peacefully we don't want to break the law please remain peaceful illegal immigration remains illegal not still going to follow the this week one of our own sons who cheese ministers dared to use the phrase muslims of rockiness in a speech. although he did not explicitly mention the row injure his words implicitly suggested that they were an ethnic and religious group this is a great affront to the nationalist monks. was wonder was. according to a new report by the un high commissioner for human rights the burma is army is
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pursuing a policy of systematic murder torture and rape. several n.g.o.s are using the term genocide. me and maher is facing severe criticism from many governments and the international community as a whole all the more so since our own son suchi hasn't as yet said or done anything to defend their own engine. eleven nobel laureates have written an open letter to the un security council voicing their concerns. i call it if it doesn't all the problems in the country have been caused by the military. but the responsibility has been laid at the current governments. they were the only is responsible for crime the civil wars and the condition of the
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muslim is never clear he said never the less people blame i'm son she's governor. but our own son to chief is really the country's head of state only in name according to the constitution she herself had a hand in writing the military has held on to some of its power it still has a quarter of all seats in parliament and the important interior and defense ministers are also army officers so the military alone is actually making all the decisions about how to proceed in iraq in. our own songs to choose hands tied or is she second feis in the muslims as part of an arrangement with the generals in exchange for her new democracy it's hard to say . but even if she wanted to protect the role injure she'd still have to confront
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the nationalist monks she stuck between the generals and religious extremists like to cite. the week the the the and the president since two thousand and twelve we funded a position that is contrary to our sons who cheese a while ago the law was passed to protect the race and religion and that was necessary because muslims reproduce quickly. the thirty three and i'll be members of parliament voted against it and on sons who didn't show up in parliament at all that day allegedly because she was sick. of. the. the
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protection of race and religion that's the purpose of a two thousand and fifteen law limiting into religious marriages and targeting the country's five percent muslim population by banning polygamy it was a great political victory for radical activists such as the patriotic me and ma monks union shortly before the election of. protecting race and religion isn't just a legal matter me in my eyes buddhist monks missionary work is also based on this formula but its meaning is controversial because the berm is word for race can also mean nation for most monks protecting race means something more like protecting the
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country and its culture. but the nationalists are all about racism or racism they proclaimed loudly. that. a much more powerful group of extremists have managed to make the issue of national identity the subject of public debate across the country. the mob is the most influential organization of nationalist monks in myanmar. today who to cite has been invited to speak in honor of the fourth anniversary of the group's founding. the. the rapid growth of the mob was generously supported by the military junta even though our own sons who cheese victory weaken the organization
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a little it's populism and islamophobia are spreading more with every meeting. i would like to greet all the venerable individuals who've come to celebrate the fourth anniversary of my data here in my tele i have just three words for you ma. ma means protection of race. means protection of religion. and ta means protection of the buddhist teachings. but the. words are. new the. we've been protecting race and religion for four years now. the bearded ones with their greedy eyes and dark skins invaded our country through the back
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door. and i right yes at the same time there are people who demand that we live in peace with them. what are we to do with these nice people should we just send them to our king should we send them there with the promoters. yes that's what we should just. we're accused of sowing hatred instead of practicing all religion for peace but we're just protecting ourselves against the hatred that's flooding our country when i'm the one spreading hatred and i'm only out tempted to do it alone you know all the titles of all the. living and we monks the sons of god. we don't want conflicts not just us but old regular buddhists have to follow the five basic tenets of buddhism. but nobody can control their anger. if you're not angry you can control yourself but as the buddha
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says when we're angry we become blind and conned control ourselves anymore. well that means we monks kaante each that you must kill anymore even though the buddha said it's a sin because of the idea out of money and us a lot of that and then they are going to go to our courts our battery. i was already. gandhi came from india he really respected human rights onto men rights respected here too they are. here but what happened to gandy he defended human rights out of his deepest conviction and then he broke up india as a result wasn't it so it was. a m.
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. it. has been elected the new president of the united states does he defend human rights or the national interest. the national interest. the national interest counts. we're protecting ourselves against the decline of our race through our way of protecting ourselves against the decline of buddhist teachings where we're protecting ourselves against the decline of our religion. oh. thank. you oh.
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oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh. oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh. oh. oh .
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but i don't know it in my view my backside is becoming increasingly dangerous when i'm in ruler of regions where the people if a country will become muslim funks on suchi gains power they are asking is it true that colors make up a large percentage of the government of course it's not true but the river of population believes these claims who's to blame it. put these ideas in the heads that he said i have that i am about to. meet. the. president my most important weapon is what the buddha taught but on alone and then
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many if i contradict them i refer to buddhist texts he wouldn't talk his love and their preaching hate and these days the world is a village the people lost themselves whether they sister real buddhism if the other countries see as like this how can we spread our religion i have a talking on. the the. the. the today is a day of mourning for. his old masters dead. and the buddhists of mandalay are paying their last respects before he's cremated.
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he was a highly respected monk and a wise man who has left behind a deeply split and deeply worried monastic community. all the monks know the world has changed and the changes triggered by the opening up of the country scare them. and so some of the monks like so many people around the world are searching for salvation in isolationism and a rejection of everything and everyone they don't know. but in myanmar the influence of these groups is so great that the hatred they're spreading threatens its still very fragile democracy.
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